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7 ways to cruise the Nestaweya River Trail in Winnipeg

Posted January 26, 2022 | Author Jillian Recksiedler

Winnipeg earns its nickname 'Winterpeg' each January when The Forks officially opens its river trail, a spectacular winter attraction found nowhere else in Canada. This year welcomes a new name for the trail - Nestaweya (Ness-ta-way-ah) is the original Cree name for the site of The Forks - as well as some creative, new ways to cruise down the ice and enjoy the season.

A visit to Manitoba means travelling through Treaty 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Territory and through communities who are signatories to Treaties 6 and 10. It encompasses the original lands of the Anishinaabeg, Anish-Ininiwak, Dakota, Dene, Ininiwak and Nehethowuk and the homeland of the Métis. To learn more about Manitoba's Treaty areas, click here.

Glide in style on ice cycles

Spark Rentals

New to Winnipeg's winter scene, ice cycles are a bike-skate-ski contraption that allow explorers of all abilities to hit the ice with added stability. Sparks Rentals rents ice cycles from a location near Granite Curling Club on the Assiniboine River portion of Nestaweya. They have three versions available to book online: the classic ice bike with a front blade, the sturdy ice trike with two front skis, and a tandem side-by-side bike on blades. Meanwhile at The Forks, Kendrick's Outdoor Adventures rents their own sleek version of an ice bike, along with a low-rider ice trike (with double back blades) that appeals to the young a heart.

Kick sled cardio

Type Eh Bikes

Kick sleds are finally having a moment in Canada (they've long been a mode of winter transportation in Nordic countries), and they are destined to become a staple in the Winnipeg winter scene. Cruise the entire length of Nestaweya with a quick kick, or 'spark', of your foot to propel you forward. After a few motions, your thighs burn and your heart beats fast. For folks with little ones, take them along for a ride thanks to the seat built in front. Type Eh Bikes rents kick sleds and drops them off to customers at any location along Nestaweya. Located at The Forks in the vintage train car (former Candy Mountain location), new outdoor rec company Plain Bicycles also rents a selection of kick sleds in the snowy season, including very authentic wood units.

Kids' critter cruisers

Meet Betty the beluga, Bobby the seal, Buddy the dog, and Tommy the reindeer. These adorable skate assists are a friendly way to get little ones comfortable on skates. Kendrick's Outdoor Adventures rents these characters from their location at The Common outdoor patio at The Forks. While it's easiest for new skaters to start on the rink under the canopy, take the characters down to Nestaweya on the river, too. Good news: if the kids get too tired, there is a built-in seat, leaving moms and dads to do all the legwork.

Take a fat bike for a spin

Fat bikes are right at home in Manitoba's extreme winter because the wide, grippy tires make traversing over snow and ice a breeze. There is no quicker way to see the entire 6+ kilometres of Nestaweya, and other land trails around The Forks, than by fat bike. Type Eh Bikes brings fat bike rentals directly to you at whatever staring point you choose on the trail. Kendrick's Outdoor Adventures at The Forks Market also rents both adult and child sizes of fat bikes, and even offers guided tours around the downtown.

Cross-country ski on the beaten path

Cross-country skiing has never been more popular - and accessible - than during these last two winters of the pandemic. At The Forks, Plain Bicycles, located in the vintage train car in the parking lot, runs a community-driven 'ski shack' that allows anyone to access a pair of boots, skis and poles by donation. It allows athletes of all levels to access the popular winter sport, without the costly barrier of having to own the equipment. There are groomed classic ski trails in all directions along Nestaweya.

Snowshoe off the beaten path

While the walking trail portion of Nestaweya is likely too packed to warrant snowshoes, detour off course a bit to explore the thick blanket of untouched snow on the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. Kendrick's Outdoor Adventures has a convenient location for snowshoe rentals at The Forks Market, where you can warm up on cinnamon buns and coffee after your adventure.

Lace up a pair of skates

Two people skating on the Red River Mutual Trail at The Forks.

Remember the days when ice skating was the only fun way to get down the river trail at The Forks? Well, Canada's favourite pastime is still an option thanks to Iceland Skate Rentals inside The Forks Market that rents hockey and figure skates in all sizes. Maybe you're already a seasoned ice skater looking for a new challenge? Nearby Plain Bicycles in the vintage train car in The Forks parking lot rents Nordic skates, elongated steel blades that are attached to cross-country ski boots so you can zip down Nestaweya at top speed.

There are many creative and accessible ways to get outdoors and exercise during winter on the Nestaweya River Trail at The Forks in Winnipeg. Try a new activity every weekend or visit with a group of friends and allow everyone to choose their own adventure.

Jillian Recksiedler, Travel Manitoba

About The Author

Hi, I'm Jillian, a marketer, communicator, traveller and Manitoba flag waver. Growing up in rural Manitoba during the '80s means I have a penchant for daytrips, maps (the paper kind), and prairie sunsets. I never tire of sharing stories about my home.

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